It’s unlikely an event like this has ever been held in Israel before. On January 4, women from the Galilee, the Negev and the Triangle (Wadi Ara region) came together at the Inbal Dance Theatre for the Black Labor Conference to discuss their status as female workers at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
Representatives of the women, sat before a packed hall and made it clear this was far more than just another academic conference on women’s employment.
Nepalese teacher turned caregiver in Israel
This was apparent in the voice of caregiver Ambika Chahatry (37) from Nepal, a former teacher who was among the founders of the Caregivers Union.
“I came from Nepal as a caregiver and I take care of an elderly woman in Tel Aviv,” she said in English.
“Three years ago I left my mother and my three children who I probably won’t recognize when I return home.
” A few months ago a conference was held in Tel Aviv with many participants. The conference was about migrant laborers. Among those present were representatives of the government, the National Insurance Institute, judges, Knesset members, professors and Histadrut leaders.
” But they forgot to invite us, representatives of migrant laborers who were the subject of the conference. I am happy to see that this conference is completely different.”
Arab women, Bedouin women, Ethiopian women, East Asian guest workers
Women agriculture laborers from the Triangle, some of whom came straight from their exhausting day’s work in plantations, women of Ethiopian background from Kiryat Gat who work in handcrafts, basket weavers from the Galilee, migrant laborers from east Asia and residents of “unrecognized” villages in the Negev together with trade union and fair trade leaders and activists – these were the faces of manual labor at minimum wage, faces of strong women, empowered women, women able to speak up for themselves.
The conference was organized by the Coalition of Women for Fair Employment.